They’re going on my rocket, with or without a highlander to blast upon them. Or perhaps we can just position them near the rocket’s main window as we leave it open for a breeze.
Wind-chimes, meanwhile, will not be welcomed onto the rocket, as whilst there might be no more magical a sound than metallic wind-chimes doing what they do in the breeze as they introduce a fairy or a spell takes place, there is no greater relief than when the chimes are grabbed and silenced at long last.
Because it stirs us up from beneath the kilt and makes you wilt like the pansy alien you really are.
Plus tartan kilts.
Plus salted porridge.
These’ll need some development…but, yes, I am ultimately putting Scotland as an entity on my rocket.
And very few nations are going to get that good favour.
This is the series of articles in which I detail all the things that I feel deserve a place upon the rocket we send into space so as to impress aliens, for good and bad (below the waste or not). There are items and concepts that I feel represent us well as a species and as hosts of a planet, either by summing us up well or simply being awesome enough that I want aliens to know about it; which is why the Maori Haka and Abba’s Mamma Mia made it onto the rocket in the last article.
Tartan has a place aboard the rocket, in every single format that it could possible take.
The kilt (obviously), trousers, tea pots, tattoos, shoes, lingerie and total-tartan-suits…all are a bewildering exclamation of proud nationalism via a pattern resembling the London Underground map coloured in by Microsoft Paint.
It also looks like a futuristic and complex array of wiring/programming that would hopefully be as incomprehensible to aliens as the distinction of tartan from clan-to-clan is for me.
Perhaps we could have tartan rocket? Just crack open the tartan paint.
So, whilst the tartan might not be the most worthy of things on the rockets, it still fits in with the theme of today.
Look, I’m struggling to continue with this seeing as that although this article has this Scottish theme and its worthiness for a place on the rocket, I simply want to write about something else now.
I prefer to urinate in the countryside.
That’s what I’m writing about now.
I imagine it’s like golf – the main benefit being that it’s outside and one can enjoy the scenery whilst peeing in the sunshine or moonlight.
However, I have an ulterior motive for when I pee in my garden, and the woods, and the meadow and ever-elsewhere with particular focus on being near a fox den.
I believe we must take pride in our species in terms of output, essence and achievements, and promptly rub it in the face of all other life on Earth (before then doing all this again on a space-bound rocket).
So, I pee outside with the hope that a fox, or a deer or a badger might come along, sniff my abandoned puddle and realise in their mind: “Hmm. That guy…”
And whilst I enjoy being natural amongst nature, it’s mostly the fact that I want to be of some effect in the daily life of a fox I’ve never met. Perhaps they’ll pass the knowledge of that Sam-Man-Pee down to their cubs and I’ll become alike to the boogieman; which is fine by me.
I’d consider it a healthy level of respect for local foxes to sniff my pee and move on.
And nobody need nibble the other, I’m not eliminating the food source of discarded pizza boxes and stolen hats, and I don’t write disparaging comments about foxes on Facebook. It’s all rather mature and long may the pee sniffing continue – especially on the rocket (another reason for having the window open).
Wearing a kilt would make peeing outside easier. A pleasure even, though perhaps not a charming one.
The additional benefit of the kilt is the incredibly effective method of lifting it and waggling the highlander’s lowlands at opponents across the valley, causing both sides to become either truly enraged with a willy-inspired bloodlust that can only be satisfied with a nice bowl of cooling porridge to dip oneself in, or suddenly discovering that you have a tremendous amount of genital-respect for one another which can only be satisfied another cooling porridge dip, though this time without salt.
Drizzle would, I once assumed, be a natural soother of highland tempers and a subduer of spikey temperaments, until I realised on a drizzly mountain side one winter that I was going to severely impediment the progression to future birthdays of all those dryer than myself at that point.
Drizzle has a funny way of making the drizzled-upon people redheaded and tartan and the drizzled-upon flowers purple and spikey.
The Thistle will be the official posy of planet Earth, unless somebody can provide a Sunflower prior to blast-off, as I feel still that a Sunflower is the flower of Earth with the best chance representing flora in a fight against fauna (Venus Flytraps excluded owing to being sneaky and dishonourable). A Thistle might be a more honourable flower, but a Sunflower looks like a 3-year-old drew it and it could feed a family of 8.
The salted porridge deserves a place upon the rocket too, more so as a metaphor than as a meal in and of itself.
“Thank you, but does that house provide any salt to top with?”
“If you’d be so kind, as it’s just that I do so adore porridge, but I do too tend to find that it’s just not bloody horrible enough!”
Sometimes, it’s worth doing something hard purely on the basis that it’s hard.
I once carted a pumpkin around for a few days with the sheer hope that doing a tough-to-do thing would benefit me in terms of true-grit, but I forgot about the idea and left the pumpkin on the stairs (unaware that it had been penetrated and the snails I was saving to cook has escaped and had a jolly good go at it).
My forearm power grew and I’ll swear those snails tasted a tad of pumpkin, but on the whole I became (following many other similar contributions) perpetually prepared to have a bad time for no good reason.
Salted porridge is much the same.
Horrible now, not so horrible next time.
And the alien life would see this through our rocket’s open window, as we waggle our tartan erections out into deep space from beneath our kilts, a bowl of salted porridge somewhere near the mouth – making us grimace in drizzly determination; all to the tune of the magnificent bagpipes – making us grimace in ecstasy as we realise that Earth (in particularly Scotland) is better than your pathetic and weedy little excuse for a planet.
And now we’re taking Mars too.
You might be familiar with the entrenched British radio stalwart entitled: “Desert Island Discs” in which prominent folk from various fields are interviewed on the hypothetical pretence that they are going to be marooned on a desert island.
On this island they are permitted 8 songs (usually music), 1 book and a single luxury item; and this is to do them till eternity isn’t eternal anymore on this desert island.
A charming concept and a wonderful way in which to see more into a person as they unveil themselves via the vital songs in of their life.
A tremendous way to sum up a lifetime, but a hard task when summing up the Earth.
What songs could sum up the Earth and all its previous? Are we stuck with 8 songs to detail our planet’s past? Do the dinosaurs get any sway in our say?
It’s probably worth explaining why I’m bringing the planet into this.
I can remember being told that one day all life in the entire universe was going to end, but not before our sun gave up the galactic ghost and Earth went bang.
I was very young and slightly shaken (almost crapped myself) until it was explained to me that the Earth was not due to explode in a whirl of mountains and continents and pets until millions of years after my own comfortable bed-bound death.
Though quelled, I still held the knowledge that all this was temporary and that there was going to be a final day.
And so, from those young days to this, I have pondered at times about which things would be a good way to kick off the final day; activities and playlists, guest lists and buffet items.
And then, as my understanding of probable alien life came into being, I realised the need to broadcast our best and brightest to the cosmos; for a whole host of reasons including but not limited to: scaring the sweet shit out of Johnny Alien and ensuring they heard the lovely melodies of tales about getting-the-girl, being-so-glad and telling-all-the-world.
And I’ve been narrowing it down.
Yes, it’s another series from me, and whilst a new one comes, please don’t assume the others are dead. Perpetually IN is not quite out of vogue, Matters That Matter still matters and Brief…Therefore Witty still has some epigrams to launch before lunch, although it has become increasingly clear as to my answer in that famed personality quiz question: “Do you find it easier to start new projects or finish up the details that’ve been passed on to you?”
Never pass things on to me.
Especially a trumpet (I hate it when a person plays a brass instrument and holds eye-contact with me. Gives me the willies. Woodwind doesn’t seem to bother me though).
Especially when you’ve just blown it at a group of post-conch-blowing Mauri in the 1600’s.
Onto the rocket goes:
Having viewed much of the world with a fairly sturdy stomach, it was not till I watched true Maori of New Zealand perform the Haka, barely a few feet from my face, with as much intensity as a human can muster and hopefully as much as an alien can bare to stand.
The tattooed face isn’t really an important factor in this, because we’re talking about a wielding of the face that is such a tradition that I truly believe that it has become a genetic blessing on the traditional Maori people.
The bulging eyes, the enormity of the limbs of the ilk that might not grace the cover of GQ but would certainly cause a fellow to quiver in recognition that this is a matter of dashing brains upon the beach, and the tongue that whips with every sincerely meant gasping inhalation of the imminence of battle in which you simply can’t wait to take part.
The slapping/clawing of the legs and chest, the slight and delicate motions between in which genuine respect is given to some hairy sun-stealing deity, the waving of weaponry and the warrior’s deep-shrieking vernacular of a people that have no issue with your puny European musket because we’re used to hunting giant 12-foot Moa birds with huge glowing green rock-clubs, so beware me as I blow my conch (put the trumpet down).
There is something so utterly awe-inspiring about the Maori Haka that I truly believe it is amongst the best of what our species has to offer, and we must look at things in terms of an entire species from now on, otherwise the aliens won’t take our rocket seriously.
I can easily believe the Haka can make you fearless. For how can an expression such as that pictured (just look at the picture…) have any concern over so fleeting a complication as a Martian death-ray?
It is, however, crucial that this Haka be performed only by Maori. Even if they’re 1/24th Maori; that’ll do just dandy too, but it’s not going to be a European guy doing it.
I’ve seen the Kiwi rugby team with their Haka, and the Maori contingent is all of what I have expressed above, but the tall blonde guys joining in too – it just doesn’t work for me. I don’t believe their Haka. It seems too ‘awfully-hope-this-isn’t-too-much-of-an-inconvenience-if-score-a-try-awfully-very-much-sorry-thanks-sorry’. I’m sure they could do a marvellous Scandinavian/Viking battle cry, standing all moody whilst the rain runs from the battle-axe, plus I’ve never seen an Asian or African guy do the Haka, but I’m going to have to choose a Maori guy (and girl, sure) for the Haka here.
I’m not saying European guys shouldn’t do it, I’m just saying it’s not getting onto my rocket.
I’m trying to make inter-galactic friends here.
There is also that message of the Haka, which is the indomitable threat of an ultimate victory expressed via the eyes and lashing tongue in the Haka, but written here it is:
“The worst thing you can be is shit. And I’m going to defeat you in battle, kill you hence, I’m going to eat you, and I’m going to turn you into shit. I will turn you into shit. And I’m keeping your boat.”
A powerful message we can all relate to, especially since I’m in favour of eating some people. Not all people, but explicitly people who continue walking towards our planet once having seen the Haka (because we’d better eat them; they must be insane to keep marching after seeing that).
You might now be starting to see how Desert Island Discs and my rocket deviate from one another.
Next up, onto the rocket goes:
‘Mamma Mia’, by Abba.
Perhaps this is the battle cry the Scandinavians could be doing whilst the Haka’s happening next door?
Of course I’m referring to the single song, not the entire musical. Not the musical at all in fact, but undoubtedly that glorious piece of lyricised human condition known as ‘Mamma Mia’.
Crickey it’s a corker.
A tale known by those who have loved, lost, and rekindled, lost, loved some more, and therein having actually done loving properly; it is a shame of our childish species for which we are very happy to indulge in this equal to the many times we like to put that record on and get all excited at that opening piano staccato that is in imitation of a tick-tocking clock that only tick and tocks onwards and past you whilst you’re still standing there – very much so still fallen for that person and very much so still hopeless to do anything about it.
Mamma Mia – here we go again, a mantra for those about to whirl about in a familiar romance once more, as well as those about to put ‘Mamma Mia’ on again.
Here we go again.
Lyrically, it sums up the side of that human condition that the poets try to nail and the scholars try only to avoid, whilst musically it is simply very fucking-on-the-nose as a song everyone likes.
It could always simply be that I’m a tad of a nostalgic romantic at heart and this is sheer indulgence on behalf of myself, but I don’t see how that would matter either way as it’s my rocket and you’re all my species (I’m fairly possessive) and this is the way we’re doing it.
I just adore that moment of hushedness, in which the staccato returns and the humble “Mamma Mia, here I go again, my-my how could I resist ya” – in which the hushedness represents that intimate chat with oneself in which you’re too stupefied by love that you’re unable to answer your own internal monologue. And the culmination, the CULMINATION that …..CULMINATES to the point of saying simply: “I should not have let you go”.
I feel that “Awww” is a splendid way of summing this song up, and in doing so, goes a great length in summing us up also.
The human species: “Awww” and (Haka-induced) “Arrrggghhh!”
That’s what goes onto my rocket.
It’s time to travel.
It’s time to travel because you have time to read this and, whilst this might be shooting myself in the world-dusty foot, travel is far more worth your time than anything I have to say.
And travel is worth your time, because you are worth your time.
All you ever really had was yourself and the Earth.
I think I’ll try some larger font sizes to encourage you to do it; maybe if the writing is thuddier – you’ll get to it.
Besides the talent, brains, good looks and whatever else you thought others had to their advantage, you still had yourself and you still had the Earth.
So go plunder and soak-up the soak-up-ables of this world, because of the greatest regrets the occupants of deathbeds claim (other than not learning another language – which’d is hardly comparable to travelling: you’d just end up saying you regret not-travelling in stunted Francais) – the most claimed and most rued truth is the road most travelled having been merely stomped on by yet another.
These are the times you need to think back in history, when the Earth was slightly less ancient and joining/being press-ganged into the military was your best chance of seeing the world and therein giving some kudos to the definition of ‘living’.
‘Living’ isn’t in the cubical, nor is it the job title on the door to the office you’re yet to occupy.
Nobody looks back on their life wishing they’d played more Candy Crush, unless of course it were whilst whiling away the hours in the back of a tour bus – but that’s a real waste of scenery.
I’d done a fair bit of here-and-there-ing in my 27 years of life, and whilst those times were tremendous – it was my 7 months of travel through South East Asia, Australasia, New Zealand and North America that really sealed the deal as to how I felt about Earth and why I was strolling around upon it.
Get gone and (no offence) just go away.
Now I’ve been home for several months now and have gone about day-to-day life as best I can, and thus I’ve had the time to process the experiences of my travel and what they now mean to me.
And here’s what’s key in my thinking: travel is not my everything, but my everything is very different now I’ve travelled.
It’s hard to return to the corporate world and give two tupenny tosses about the printer machine’s new button and how only Bodoni MT Condensed is the only font capable of truly expressing us as a company.
Instead, I remember flying…on a bus.
It’s an easily achievable method of motion once your driver realises that (1.) he is incredibly late for the tour’s scheduled arrival and (2.) you get more job satisfaction when you’ve put your passengers in surreal danger and gotten them out from it because you were dangerous.
We were hurtling our way through some ethereal mountain roads in Vietnam – heading north to Dalat at speeds illegal outside of South East Asia.
The view was typical of Vietnam; four feet away and consisting of a thick grey mist that a bus’s headlights couldn’t penetrate (but the rest of it certainly could at top speed) – with intermittent splashes of wondrous valleys and awe-inspiring mountains of that dark green that speaks such a wealth of nature one can only feel a little hurt at how the Earth has got so much going on besides you.
And despite our 10-moutains-per-hour speed – some corners required the nuances instilled from days as an experienced mountain bus driver. It was on one of these two-minute turns in which the passengers clenched their stomachs, buttocks and Candy Crush drenched Ipads in preparation for the imminent through-the-floor pedalling that our driver was treating us with, that I looked out of my window to see what locals were nearing the bus.
Three young children, looking very cold and very wet, took steps towards us in crappy plastic shoes, their hands upturned and out-stretched in the international sign for begging, though with that hurried professional assuredness that comes from knowing the passengers on board had gold to spare and the indulgence with which to sprinkle it like fairy dust all over Vietnam.
We knew they would act upon our pity, big eyes and little feet in even crappier plastic shoes than the last sentence, calling to us: “Please!” whilst we did our best to ignore; knowing that a dollar now meant it was less likely they’d ever be sent into school and have a chance to learn their way out of those shoes and down from the mountain.
Seeing life like that makes you put down the donut.
But what I saw next as we sped away from these three children made me want to throw a donut into the sky, thump it with a baseball bat with all the strength I could muster into the mouth of anyone who wanted to join the game, all due to the sheer fact that satisfying hunger is fine, but some things are eternally fun.
Another corner, another three children come into view, utterly and completely uninterested in the potential for making out-of-school money from enormous tourists…because they were – gleefully as I’ve learnt only people doing this can be – playing with a fireball.
They didn’t have lunch, but they sure as sweet hell had a fireball. And it was satisfying.
I don’t know where they got it from, but they had gotten themselves a fireball and were being entirely appropriate with it – picking it up barehanded, throwing it at (not ‘to’; fuck ‘to’) one another (the drizzle cooled them down), kicking it up and down the mountain and smiling their teeth into another dimension.
I’ve never seen humans do anything better than how those little Vietnamese children conducted themselves with their fireball guest of gusto, their small bundle of vibrant, amazing joy that excited them so much that hunger could go and fuck itself.
Additionally, I promise you that this is not metaphorical. They were holding a fireball and lobbing it at their friends.
I wish I had a fireball, and sitting at a desk, reading a snooty email either complimenting or complaining (I can’t be bothered to find out which) about my choice of font, I remember the two trios I encountered in those Vietnamese mountains.
The three hungry children and the three fireballers. Both living total alternatives to the life of a typical Englishman, and now I step forward knowing of them both.
That’s progress, that’s healthy, that’s an experience you tell the grandchildren about and that’s travelling.
And again, this experience was not my everything, but now my everything means something very different to me.
Travel – either do that or cure cancer with video games; one’s more likely and one’s possibly even more enjoyable (not that I’ve cured cancer with video games).
Fireballs and hunger, hunger and fireballs.